As President Donald Trump flew back to Washington, D.C. from a small rally in Tampa, Florida on Friday, he went on the record with the accompanying press pool to announce his intention to ban the popular video sharing app TikTok.
“As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” he said. When asked if he would invoke the Emergency Economic Powers Act, he said “well, I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that.”
The President added that he did not support a possible deal in which Microsoft would purchase TikTok. It was reported earlier Friday that the Redmond, Washington-based tech giant had been in talks with the Chinese company ByteDance, which owns the increasingly popular video-sharing social networking app.
The ban may happen as soon as this weekend.
The Trump Administration’s reasoning stems from fears about user security. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called TikTok and other Chinese-owned apps “Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence.” Amazon employees were directed to delete the app from their phones in early July.
A TikTok spokesperson told CNBC that the app was committed to user privacy. “TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access,” the spokesperson said, adding that the app was also a jobs creator.
“We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US,” they said.
TikTok has also created a fund, $1 billion of which is earmarked for the United States, to help up-and-coming creators develop their voice and brand on the platform.
Saturday morning, TikTok’s U.S. General Manager Vanessa Pappas released a video thanking the millions of Americans who use TikTok for their support.
In mid-May, Disney executive Kevin Mayer became CEO of TikTok, based out of Los Angeles. “There is a lot of politics going on,” he said during a webinar in late June. “We are not really a Chinese company.”
As TikTok has gained in popularity it has become a rather visible thorn in President Trump’s side. The comedian Sarah Cooper has used its lip-synching abilities to weaponize Trump’s own words into absurdist short films shared all over the Internet. In late June, there were reports that K-Pop stans on the app duped Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale into an inflated sense of ticket demand for the Tulsa rally. Parscale has since been demoted.
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